Posts tagged healthy snacks

Making Hummus with Dried Chickpeas

HummusOne of my favorite Lebanese restaurants churns out smooth, creamy hummus that’s unlike anything I’ve been able to make at home. Until now. The secret I’ve found is foregoing the canned chickpeas – you know, the ones that smell like cat food when you open them?

 

In playing around with making hummus from scratch I discovered that I was usually adding extra ingredients – more and more garlic, olive oil, and seasoning to cover up the tin taste of the canned chickpeas. When you make hummus from dried beans there’s no off taste to cover up, the beans are flavorful all by themselves. Making hummus with dried chickpeas doesn’t involve many more steps, just a little more planning. Plus, a bag of dried chickpeas costs a lot less than buying cans!

 

Tips for hummus success:

  • Don’t use flavored olive oil – I tried with with garlic oil and the flavor overpowers the chickpeas
  • Do blend in extra ingredients, like roasted red pepper, once you’ve made your hummus (although the plain variety is the best when you make it from dried beans)
  • Hummus becomes fluffier in texture on day #2
  • Chickpeas cook more evenly in a smaller crockpot but go ahead and use what you have on hand
  • Do double or triple this recipe!

 

Recipe

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

 

Ingredients

1 cup dried chickpeas (usually available at the grocers either by the canned beans or in the Mexican food section)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. tahini (in a pinch you can substitute 1 tbsp. peanut butter plus 1/2 tbsp. each more olive oil and more reserved liquid)

1/2 clove garlic or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1-4 tbsp. reserved liquid from the beans

1/2 juice from a fresh lemon

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1-2 tsp. salt (sea salt, preferred)

 

Directions

  1. Place the dried chickpeas in a crockpot and cover with water – about 1″ above the beans. Soak overnight.Soaking chickpeas
  2. Rinse the chickpeas and empty the water from the crockpot. Place the rinsed chickpeas back into the crockpot and cover again with water – about 1″ above the beans. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or until the beans are tender (it’s okay to overcook the beans a bit). *Add in 1/2 tsp. salt halfway through cooking.
  3. Ready the food processor! Drain the cooked chickpeas, reserving the extra liquid.Blending Hummus
  4. Put the lid onto the food processor and place the oil into the dispensing funnel (if you have one; alternatively place the olive oil in with the beans before processing) and pulse the beans until they become mushy.Making hummus
  5. Remove the lid and add the tahini and seasonings; blend again. Add salt to taste.
  6. Adjust the consistency of the hummus with the reserved liquid. If you like a smoother consistency by all means add more – if chunky is your style, you’re done.
  7. To serve place the hummus, in a bowl and drizzle with extra olive oil and roasted pumpkin seeds or sprinkle with smoked paprika or cayenne pepper. Last night I just put a big pile of hummus on each kid’s plate.
Lebanese dinner

Lebanese dinner – grilled chicken, hummus, tabbouleh, pitas, cucumbers, and grapes

 

 

 

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Monkey smoothies

Our scheduled has rampedScreen Shot 2013-01-17 at 9.29.32 PM up lately with basketball games, play practices (x2), homework projects–oh, and I’m squeezing in a little kitchen renovating. To fill in the gaps when it comes to snacks (uh, and sit-down meals) I’ve been making these smoothies for my kiddos. They’ve now dubbed them “monkey smoothies.”

 

The smoothies are packed with protein courtesy of the peanut butter and Greek yogurt. I’ve found that if my kids fill up on protein it gives them the energy they need to make it through our sometimes crazy schedule.

 

Recipe

Prep time: I’ve got it down to 5 minutes

Servings: 2-3 depending on the size of your glasses

 

Ingredients:

1 cup crushed ice

1/4 cup peanut butter (smooth, creamy, take your pick)

2 tablespoons Nutella or chocolate syrup

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

1 banana

1/2-3/4 cup milk

 

Directions:

  1. For the right consistency (another way of saying “so the peanut butter doesn’t get glued to the side of your blender), put the crushed ice, peanut butter, Nutella, and banana into your blender first. Pulse briefly.
  2. Add in the milk and pulse until smooth, then add in the Greek yogurt.
  3. Finishing touch–pour in the chocolate syrup or Nutella for a little sweetness. You can add more if you’ve got a child with a real sweet tooth, or skip it entirely.
  4. Serve in a glass with a lid on the way to volleyball/piano lessons/theatre class…

 

 

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Tips for tackling summer snack attacks

Anyone else suffer from the summer snack attacks? You know where potato chips, boxed mac ‘n cheese, and other usual no-nos or occasional treats become regulars in your kitchen cabinets? During the school year I’m pretty good at planning out dinners beforehand and having relatively healthy snacks on hand for my kids after school. While I thought summertime would make it even easier for my kids to eat good-for-them foods, what with berries, peaches, melons and all sorts of goodies available, it hasn’t quite worked out that way.

I’ve discovered a few tips for the summer snack attacks that we’re trying around our house, maybe they might work for you too.

Keep it whole. It takes minutes (seconds, really) to down a cup of applesauce. But eating an entire apple? That involves more time and attention. I’ve found my kids feel fuller and are more satisfied when they eat whole fruits and veggies instead of juices or sauces.
Keep it cold. On a hot summer day my kids (okay, so do I) crave ice cream and other icy sweets to cool off. My teen started a trend that’s become a tradition around our house–eating berries right out of the freezer. While you can pick and freeze your own, I also like Costco’s mixed bag of blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

Keep it fun. So your kids like some unconventional snacks, hey as long as they’re good-for-them, I say go for it. My middle child loves to eat whole limes–she’ll take her time sucking out the juice then eating the inside. She’ll happily spend her entire 10 minute swim break at the pool taking apart her lime, piece by piece. I can’t think of a better snack, although I’ve seen a few people give her a doubletake as they pass by. My youngest likes banana chips dipped in peanut butter.

Keep it handy. Stash the once-in-awhile snacks where your kiddos won’t seem them all the time and make sure healthier snacks are always within reach. I like to keep bowls of fruit in the middle of my kitchen table so it’s easy for my kids to grab a healthy treat. In the fridge I put mini carrots, cut up cantaloupe and baby cucumbers in various clear containers so my kids know right where to find them.

Your turn–what do you do to help your kids eat healthy snacks in the summertime?

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Magic smoothies

A few weeks ago I noticed someone posted on a picky eater dilemma on Facebook–when you give your kids a smoothie spiked with spinach, do you tell ‘em about it…especially if they’re liking said smoothie packed with one of nature’s premiere superfoods?

Full disclosure: I love, love spinach. Regular lettuce has no heft and doesn’t fill me up, but give me a bowl of fresh baby spinach (or let me sip it down) and I’m happy. My kids, well, I’m working on that.

I don’t believe in sneaking veggies into foods. After all, you want kids to like veggies, right? Well if they don’t even know what they’re eating, how will they know they like them? But, I do believe you can be a little creative in your veggie presentation. And St. Patrick’s Day offers a perfect chance to convince your kids to try this veggized version. Explain to your younger kids that you’re going to make a magic smoothie–it’s going to change colors from Leprechaun green to pink. My youngest has a fascination with leprechauns ever since one of her teachers convinced her the little guys existed by moving all of the desks around in her classroom on the holiday and claiming, “The leprechauns did it.”

So if you want to weave some sort of leprechaun lore into your smoothie prep, by all means. Frankly, I’ve found the best texture for a spinach smoothie comes from mixing the spinach with applesauce, water and Greek yogurt before adding in the berries. If you mix everything at once the spinach doesn’t always get blended well enough (as much as I like spinach, no one likes a big leaf hanging out in their smoothie). I add in the berries at the end. Sure enough my green smoothie becomes pink with just a few pulses. Whether you want to tell your kids the color change is magic, the leprechauns did it, or just serve them up spinach smoothies without telling them what’s inside, well that’s up to you. I will say that first time my tween saw me making this smoothie her reaction was “Ex, gross there’s spinach in there.” I asked her to give it a try and she balked, sipped, then declared, “Oh mom, I can taste the spinach that’s nasty.” Well, I made again and she didn’t say anything, just slurped away. When I was making it today I didn’t try to hide the spinach–and she didn’t ask about it–her only question, “Mom, where’d you put the straws?”

Ready to whip up some veggized spinach for your kiddos?

Recipe

Servings: 4-6

Prep time: 5 minutes


Ingredients

1 cup fresh baby spinach, loosely packed

3/4 cup plain yogurt (preferably Greek)

1/2 cup apple sauce

1 cup water

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

2 cups water

1 tablespoon agave or honey

lemon (optional)

Directions

  1. In a blender, pulse the spinach, yogurt, apple sauce and 1 cup water together until thoroughly combined. The mixture should be a bright green.
  2. Add the fresh or frozen berries along with another cup of water and the honey or agave. Pulse again.
  3. Pour in more water to get the consistency you want. Blend until smooth.
  4. Optional: squeeze 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice into the smoothie, pulse and serve.

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